Holidays can be a stressful time filled with anxiety and tension. Don't freak out! This is normal! You're not alone.
When anxiety fills the mind the mind is on a constant run, like a hamster on its wheel stuck in its cage. Running and running going nowhere. This is called rumination (we can actually get rid of it with Neuro!).
Research shows that mind wandering occurs up to 46% of our waking lives and can negatively impact us.
46%! That's a lot of time for our mind to wander, thinking about things over and over again. And a lot of time spent in worry and fear about what's to come, what we haven't completed, what still needs to be done.
Most importantly that's a lot of time lost enjoying whats happening right now, right in front of us.
What's happening in the brain? Well our amygdala (responsible for fight, flight, or freeze) is working on over drive. It is responsible for our negative emotions - especially anxiety. Ideally we want to be in our prefrontal cortex. This is the place where we can slow down and make a rational decision. The prefrontal cortex helps us move into a more relaxed state.
Here are a few mindfulness techniques that can help you move out of your amygdala ridden anxiety and into the relaxed state of awareness in your prefrontal cortex:
Breathe: Take a deep breath in, hold at the top for a 4 count, then let it out super slow. Try and make your exhales longer than you inhales. Do this multiple times. Focus on breathing more into your belly (diaphragmatic breathing) rather than your chest to kick in your relaxation response.
Visualize: Anxiety in the brain creates an overactivity in the nervous system. Visualize water running like a river down your body. Just like rocks running over a stream. Visualize the water running from your head out your feet. Feel your body beginning to "cool" down and move the anxious energy out. The more vividly you can visualize this the more impactful this will be. Here is a meditation that can help.
Adult Eye Spy: This is a favorite of mine that I give to every client. When you feel your mind running, stop to call out what you see around you. Red chair, purple grapes, yellow blanket, etc. This will force your mind out of the rumination space.
Be Aware Of Your Body: The body plays out what the mind is serving up. Notice what you're body is doing when you feel tension, stress, or anxiety. Are your shoulders up to your ears? Is your chest tight? Focus on relaxing your shoulders and softening your chest. Relaxing the body will in turn relax the mind because of their connection.
Enjoy the holidays!